Greeks burn US flag in student protest anniversary

Clashes have erupted between police and protesters in Athens and another major city on the 43rd anniversary of a student uprising that was brutally crushed by the then-military junta in the country.

Greeks burn US flag in student protest anniversary

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thousands of Greeks marched under tight security on Thursday to commemorate a student uprising that helped bring down a US-backed junta in 1974.

Around 18,000 people, according to a police source, took part in the annual march to the US Embassy in Athens to mark a key moment in the restoration of democracy in the country.

Another 8,000 marched in Thessaloniki, local police said, and protesters burned an American flag outside the US consulate in the northern port city.

As the protest to the US embassy went on unhindered, dozens of hooded youths inside the Polytechnic University building, a few kilometres away in central Athens, threw stones at police who fired back tear gas.

The Polytechnic building was where dozens were killed in the 1973 military crackdown on the student uprising, an event that had an enormous impact and is generally considered to have broken the junta's grip on power.

The bloodstained Greek flag that flew over the Polytechnic that night, when a tank crashed through the historic university's iron gate, is traditionally carried at the head of the demonstration in the capital.

Some were refugees carrying Syrian flags.

The celebration "honours the 20-year-olds who stood up to combat vehicles but also a live, mass political event that expresses the democratic demands of each period", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament earlier in the day.

"The demand for more democracy... will last forever," said Tsipras, the country's first radical leftist leader, who was born the year the junta fell.

Police in Athens formed a security cordon of vans to deny protesters passage to the central Syntagma Square, which has often become a battleground in previous demonstrations.

Nearly 40 people were detained for questioning ahead of the march, the police source told AFP.

Wednesday's demonstration came after similar protests by unions and leftist groups on Tuesday, during a two-day official visit by US President Barack Obama.

There were scuffles as the protesters tried to approach the presidential mansion, where Obama was dining with Greek leaders, with police firing tear gas and stun grenades.

Special traffic regulations have been in force in the capital for a third straight day, including the closure of central streets and metro stations as well as changes to public transport routes.

Obama was the first US president to make an official visit to Greece since Bill Clinton in 1999. At the time, Clinton apologised for Washington's stance during the seven-year junta period.

Many Greeks still resent the United States for having engineered in 1967 the rise of the fervently anti-Communist dictatorship, which jailed and tortured thousands of people suspected of leftist sympathies.

afp

 

Last Mod: 18 Kasım 2016, 09:11
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